SAPAC at the University of Michigan: Students Creating Communities for Students

It is estimated that between 20 and 25% of women at institutes of higher learning will be sexually assaulted in their time being educated in college. While this statistic would have been shocking to me just a year ago, as a freshman at a large University and a member of greek life today, unfortunately, it is no longer a shocking statistic. Because the risk for both male and females to be assaulted by partners, friends, and strangers is so high, it is necessary that Universities take proper measures to ensure that there is an outlet for survivors. Furthermore, upon entrance into such a large place, with so many new freedoms, it is essential that people are educated on sexual assault in the chance that a friend or they themselves has to go through such a traumatic experience.

At The University of Michigan we are so lucky to have “SAPAC” also known as, The Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center. SAPAC does a fantastic job of promoting sexual assault awareness and education through professional services provided to the University of Michigan community, and student leadership development where students help other students as peers. They stand on a platform where they believe that women and men must work together to eradicate sexual assault, stalking, sexual harassment, and intimate partner violence. Additionally they believe in activism in many different ways, including education, advocacy, crisis-intervention, safety-building, bystander intervention, and policy development.

I have had the pleasure of attending multiple SAPAC events as mandatory checkpoints for my first year in greek life, and they have been extremely helpful, informing, and empowering. Out of the events we have attended as a sorority, most prominently have been the student run presentations, as there is something very comforting about students creating a community for other students.

In the Alpha Mu chapter of Sigma Kappa at the University of Michigan, many sisters are involved in SAPAC on campus. Over a dozen girls are members of SAPAC, with more looking to be involved next semester. It is really important that students within the community where sexual assault is most common that students are educating themselves and others, and continuing to foster such a supportive community. It is very special that women in greek life are all coming together to help provide this awareness. Not only does involvement bond a sisterhood together, it also helps other people in greek life want to be involved. One sister of Sigma Kappa in particular has a lot of responsibility and involvement within the program.

Jackie Clemmence, U of M sophomore and greek life member is a member of SAPAC who works specifically on workshops and presentations which she brings around campus to educate students on sexual assault. She wanted to get involved when she heard the statistic that on our campus alone, 11.4% of U of M students experienced sexual assault within a 12 month period. This statistic stuck out to her as something alarming, and influenced her to want to educate people on how to intervene when they see a potentially harmful situation. Of all the things Jackie hopes about SAPAC and her position in PPE (panhellenic peer educators) for the future, she hopes that other people will get involved as well. Because members of greek life are at a higher risk for sexual assault at Michigan, it is important that they are not only educated, but also take the initiative to continue to educate others. She constantly stresses to members of my sorority (Sigma Kappa) and other people on campus that we need to get involved because at the end of the day, we are at risk. Both Jackie and other members of SAPAC in Sigma Kappa hope that other people will get involved in SAPAC so that we can continue to eradicate the myths surrounding sexual assault, educate people, and continue to be the leaders and the best.

It is important that everyone realizes the threat that surrounds sexual assault at all Universities, educate themselves, and do their best to get involved in educating others. It is so humbling to know that we have something as wonderful as SAPAC to lean on god forbid we are in a situation where we need an outlet like SAPAC to support us. It is even more humbling to know that women in my sorority whom I’m surrounded by everyday are taking the initiative to step up and educate other people both in greek life and beyond about the risk of sexual assault on this campus, and what we can do to stop it. It is my hope, along with other women in my sorority, and members of SAPAC that we continue to learn about sexual assault and work to shrink the statistics everyday.

 

Images courtesy of: Eli Rallo